My two fondest memories of this time of year involve beer and risotto.
Beer is an obvious choice because beer garden season is almost upon us, and I cannot wait. There is nothing more satisfiying than to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon in one of Chicago’s many beer gardens as I enjoy one of my favorite beers in the Belgium-style beer family. My go to is always a Trappist Ale, and to be more specific La Trappe Trappist Ale.
Another of my other favorite beers I will enjoy this summer is one we sell here at The Chopping Block, Delirium Tremens. Maybe it is the pink elephant on the front of the Delirium bottle that makes me like it so much, but more likely it is the 9% alcohol content and the fact that it is super smooth.
I found a new Belgium style beer at Eataly Chicago a few weeks ago. Though it's an import from Italy, I was pleasantly surprised how it reminds me of some the other Trappist ales I have had. It was called Super Birra Ambrata by Baladin. This is more reasonably priced, unlike La Trappe or Delirium beers, it was around 7 bucks for a single.
At last, my single most favorite beer, the La Trappe Trappist Ale Quadrupel. I love this beer because it actually warms and cools your entire body at the same time. Each sip goes down like velvety cool Vichyssoise, which leads me to risotto.
The first time I tried this beer was very much like the first time my voice teacher from college made me Wild Mushroom Risotto. My mother passed away when I was about 20, and I was going to school to study voice. My voice teacher Carole Johnson, an old family friend, stepped in where my mother had left. She now lives in the south of France, however she comes back to the States each year to visit her children, adopted children (me and others) and grandchildren.
During a trip to Texas to visit her daughter and I in 2011, Carole made us a glorious meal: Veal Osso Bucco with Wild Mushroom Risotto. Carole is an amazing cook who taught me everything I know about food and entertaining. I had a last meal plan (you know, the meal you want to eat right before you die) for as long as I can remember, but it's now Carole’s Veal Osso Buco with Wild Mushroom Risotto. Her risotto put all others I had previously to shame, and I've eaten in some very well versed Italian kitchens, including a northern Italian grandmother’s kitchen, which I believe was risotto’s origin.
Carole's is by far the best! It is luxurious with a deep mushroom flavor that was soaked up by the fat grains of rice. The texture was silken and the perfect All’onda, which I believe translates to “with waves.” Her risotto like my beloved Trappist Ale Quadrupel beer goes down smooth and warms your entire body from the first bite to the last.
I paid homage to Carole's risotto the other night when I made my own version at home. It paired perfectly with my favorite beer.
Want to learn more about beer and food pairings? Join us for an upcoming special class taught by the husband and wife team of Chef Mario and Cicerone (think sommelier, but for beer) Stephanie Scordato.
Friday, May 8
The Chopping Block at the Mart
We've also just updated our beer list at The Chopping Block to get ready for summer. Check out all of our new seasonal craft beer offerings. Perhaps you and your friends are even up for a mystery beer flight challenge!